ELECTION 2015: Phoenix voters boost transit, street funding by $31.5 billion

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/28/2015

Voters in Phoenix, Ariz., this week approved a plan to inject $31.5 billion into transportation infrastructure through 2051.

Proposition 104 received nearly 55 percent of the vote on Tuesday, Aug. 25, with 45 percent voting in opposition. The vote clears the way for transit and roads to benefit through a 35 year, 0.7 percent sales tax.

Transactions of more than $10,000 would be exempt from the tax.

Funds from the tax will be made available for new asphalt on more than 680 miles of city streets. A total of 2,000 new street lights will be added throughout the city. The distance covered by light rail in the city will also be tripled. In addition, connections will be improved between bus and light rail.

The bulk of the new revenue will be earmarked for transit. Bus and bus rapid transit will claim about $17.3 billion while light rail will get $8.9 billion.

The city’s current transportation sales tax, which helps fund the light rail system that runs from Mesa to central Phoenix, is set at 0.4 percent. The increase will allow the system to be expanded across the metropolitan area.

Federal funding and fares will also help pay for the improvements.

About 7 percent of the total funds, or about $2.3 billion, will be allotted for street improvements. The rest of the money will be used for debt service and operating costs.

The tax rate change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. At that time, the city’s sales tax rate will total 8.6 percent.

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